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Full text of "Introduction to Missouri Fishes"

Introduction to 



a 




MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATIO 






MISSOURI 



Serving nature and you 




Ofl the COVeY. . . male Niangua darter in breeding color 

Niangua Darter 




Scientific name Etheostoma nianguae 
Etheostoma from the Greek etheo, "to strain," and stoma, 
"mouth;" nianguae, named for the Niangua River 
(Missouri), from which it was first identified in 1884. 

Average Size Of adults 2.5 to 4 inches; maximum size near 
4.5 inches 

Lifespan 2 to 4 years 

Habitat 

• In early to mid- April male Niangua darters move to 
gravelly riffles with swift current. At this time female 
Niangua darters are found in pools and runs adjacent to 
these silt-free riffles and move onto the riffles for a short 
period of time to spawn and then return to pools and runs. 

• When not spawning, this darter species occupies shallow 
pools and runs in streams with slight to moderate current 
and silt-free gravelly or rocky bottoms. 

Food Finds food by sight, probes for nymphs of stoneflies 
and mayflies in crevices between rocks with its long, slender 
snout 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender body with a very long head that tapers into a 
slender, pointed snout 

• 2 small, jet-black spots at base of tail fin 

• Breeding males are brilliantly colored, with an orange-red 
belly and a series of iridescent blue-green bars along the 
sides. 

Interesting facts 

• Only found in Missouri in north-flowing tributary streams 
to the Osage River 

• Large reservoirs in the Ozarks have eliminated habitat and 
fragmented the populations, thus leading to a state status 
of endangered and federal status of threatened. 

• Prior to spawning, females engage in a rapid 






', .'-1 






-' - _-. 






i 
















"headbobbing" display, then plunge head first into the 
gravel and come to rest with only the head and tail 
visible. The male vibrates rapidly above the female as the 
eggs are released, then fertilized. 

Many fish in the Ozarks (including the Niangua darter) 
can be readily observed by sitting in these clear streams 
with a mask and snorkel. After the initial disturbance 
when you enter the water, the fish settle back into their 
normal activities and provide hours of entertainment as 
you sit and observe in nature's aquarium. 



Status key 



GAME FISH: A species typically pursued by many people for sport and food 

NON-NATIVE: A fish species that did not occur in the state naturally, but 

arrived as a result of human activity 

ENDANGERED: A species in imminent danger of becoming extinct unless 

efforts are made to prevent additional losses 

THREATENED: A species likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future 

FEDERALLY LISTED: A species in peril — either threatened or endangered — 

over its entire range and is on a list maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 

Service 

STATE LISTED: A species in peril within the state of Missouri, but may have 

stable populations elsewhere 



Using the maps 

Three different symbols are used 
to show changes in distribution 
over the time interval for which 
collections are available. 



# collections made since 1945 

O collections made between 
1905 and 1945 

Cj collections made prior to 1905 



An I ntroduction to M issouri Fishes 



issouri is home to more than 200 species offish. To 
understand why there are so many kinds of fish in 
Missouri, it is important to first understand there are many 
different kinds of water areas where fish live. 

The prairies of the Great Plains and the forests of 
eastern United States meet in Missouri. Along with 
the characteristic grasses of the prairies and the oaks 
and hickories of the eastern forests, there are aquatic 
environments uniquely associated with each of these 
biomes. Prairie streams are typically shallow and slow- 
moving with streambeds made up of sand and mud. The 
streams of the eastern forests typically have moderate 
depths and swift current with streambeds made up of 
gravel- to boulder-sized rock. Since each of these major 
habitats meets in Missouri, this state is rich in aquatic 
diversity characteristic of prairies as well as eastern forests 
including streams that are a blending of each type. 

Additionally, two of the largest rivers in North 
America, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with their 
swift, muddy currents meet in the Show-Me State. Some 
fish species are specialists only inhabiting one habitat type, 
but some fish species are generalists and are widespread in 
the state. 

What is a fish? 

Ask any child to describe a fish and you will get a 
description of a slimy animal with scales, fins, gills, 
"bugged-out" eyes and large mouth, usually coupled with 
the child's imitation of a mouth blowing bubbles and 
hands waving about like imaginary fins. For the most part 
this description is correct, but some of Missouri's fish don't 
even look like fish at all. Eels and lamprey are groups of 
fish that more closely resemble snakes than fish. Some 
of Missouri's fish do not have scales (like catfish) or their 
scales more closely resemble body armor than scales (like 
gar and sturgeon). And some of Missouri's fish don't even 
have eyes! Two blind species of cavefish depend on other 
senses to find food and other life activities. 

But whether these cold-blooded vertebrates have 
eyes or scales or not, all fish depend upon their aquatic 
environment to determine their body temperature. Since 
fish are vertebrates, they have skeletons made of bone and/ 
or cartilage. Most of Missouri's fish have bony skeletons, 
but the prehistoric paddlefish has a skeleton made entirely 
of cartilage. The paddlefish is a game fish in Missouri that 
was designated as the State Aquatic Animal in 1997. Most 
fish are streamlined, an adaptation for swiftly moving 
through water and living in the flowing environment of 
streams and rivers. 



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Fish provide food and fun 

Fish certainly are an 
interesting group of 
animals that provide 
food, recreation, 
economic impact, and 
endless fascination 
to Missourians. 
Undoubtedly the earliest 
inhabitants of Missouri 
used the plentiful fish 
resource for food. 
Although no longer for 
subsistence, catching and 
preparing fish continues 
to be a social event 
many Missourians enjoy. Whether participating in the 
Ozarks tradition of a gravel bar sucker fry of freshly gigged 
redhorse and hogsuckers from a clear stream or devouring 
cornmeal covered pan-fried catfish or crappie fillets 
surrounded by a bed of morel mushrooms, the love for 
fishing and consuming fish is a long and strong Missouri 
tradition. 

Fishing ranks as one of the top recreational pursuits 
of Missourians. Fishing is a family-oriented sport for 
all ages. Fishing can be as simple and inexpensive or 
as complicated and expensive as you choose to make 
it. Nearly 1.2 million Missourians fish annually. Some 
species of fish are also pursued by commercial fishermen 
in Missouri's largest rivers. 



Want to learn more? 



This publication provides brief accounts 
of many of Missouri's interesting fish 
species. To dive further into information 
about all of Missouri's interesting fishes, read 
The Fishes of Missouri by William Pflieger. 
This book can be found in most libraries or 
can be purchased from Missouri Department 
of Conservation offices and nature centers. 
It also is available from the Nature Shop by 
calling toll free 1-877-521-8632 or on line 
at www.mdcnatureshop.com. 




Range of sizes 

Missouri's fish come in all sizes. As their names imply, 
the least darter and pygmy sunfish are two of Missouri's 
smallest fishes with an adult size of about 11/2 inches. 
On the other end of the spectrum are the gigantic lake 
sturgeon and blue catfish with individuals of each of these 
species reportedly (early in Missouri's history) reaching 
more than 300 pounds. 

Fish also show us much about the world in which 
we live. There are many lessons to be learned from the 
adaptations fish have to survive in the aquatic world. The 
diversity of fish shows us how fish have adapted to live in a 
variety of environments — from the murky depths of "Big 
Muddy" to the cypress swamps of southeast Missouri to a 
life in complete darkness found in many Missouri caves. 
For example, you must look very closely to see a sculpin 
because of its chameleon-like ability to change its color 
to blend into its multicolored gravelly stream bottom 
surroundings. 




All small fish aren't minnows.. 



any kinds of fish are small, including many 
species of minnows, which make up nearly 
one-third of Missouri's fishes. Darters, another 
kind of small Missouri fish, are members of the 
perch family (related to walleye) that commonly 
inhabit riffles of streams and attain an adult size 
of less than 4 inches. 

Missourians are well aware of catfish in 
the state, including the Missouri State Fish, 
the channel catfish. However, less familiar 
are a group called madtoms to which most 
of Missouri's catfish belong. Madtoms are 
miniature catfish found in streams throughout 
Missouri, and most reach an adult size of 
less than 4 inches. Madtoms are infrequently 
observed due to their nocturnal nature, but 
some species are occasionally caught by anglers 
fishing with worms on the bottom of streams. 



Fish have adapted 
to diverse habitats 



Missouri fishes inhabit many different aquatic habitats — 
from riffles and pools of large rivers and small streams to 
natural and artificial lakes, ponds and oxbows. Each species 
has adapted to survive in one or more of these habitats, 
but few can survive in all habitats. Traits that allow a 
species to live in a particular habitat can be adaptations in 
temperature tolerance, salt tolerance, the ability to breath 
air when needed, and in body form. Adaptations of a fish's 
body that allow a species to survive in different habitats 
include shape of the body, fin location, and mouth size and 
orientation. In general, body forms of Missouri fishes can 
be grouped into seven different categories: rover predator, 
lie-in-wait predator, deep-bodied fish, eel-like fish, bottom 
rover, bottom dinger and surface-oriented fish. 



Rover predator 



Temperate and 
black basses, trout 
and walleye are 
examples offish 
with body shapes 
adapted to a rover- 
predator lifestyle. 
Their bodies are 
elongate, their fins 
are distributed 
around the body 

evenly, their head is pointed with a relatively large mouth 
at the tip, and they usually have a forked tail, an indicator 
of a fast swimmer. This type of fish roves through several 
types of habitats from still to swift waters, and uses speed 
to catch prey. Many of our favorite Missouri game fish are 
rover predators. 




Largemouth bass 




Checkered madtom 



Lie- in- wait predator 




Chain pickerel 




Bluegill 



Pickerel and gar 

are Missouri 

species 

with the 

lie-in-wait 

predator body adaptation. Their bodies are elongate, their 

fins are moved back on the body to provide thrust for 

chasing prey their head is pointed and flattened on top, 

and they have a mouth full of teeth at the tip. This type of 

fish will lie hidden by cover in still or slow moving waters 

and dart out to snap up prey. 



Deep- bodied fish 

Many sunfish and buffalofish 
species exhibit the deep- 
bodied form. Deep-bodied 
fishes are flattened laterally 
and have long dorsal and 
anal fins. Their pectoral and 
pelvic fins are located high 
on the body. This type of 
fish mainly occurs in still 
waters and are adapted for 
maneuverability in heavy 

cover. They typically feed from the bottom or pick 
slow-moving prey from the water column. 

Eel- 1 ike fish 



American eel 

American eel and lampreys are examples of Missouri 
eel-like fish. They have very elongate bodies with reduced 
pelvic and pectoral fins, very long anal and dorsal fins, and 
unforked tails. This type offish occurs in still to moderately 
swift waters and is adapted for maneuverability in tight 
places and burrowing in soft substrates. Eels typically sneak 
up on prey, and lampreys filter food from the bottom with 
some species becoming parasitic as adults. 

Bottom dinger 

Sculpins and many 

darter species 

are adapted as 

bottom dingers. 

They tend to have 

flattened heads and large 

pectoral fins that are angled to keep the fish on the bottom 

in swift currents. This type of fish occurs in the swift water 

of riffles where they pick invertebrates from the rocks. 




Banded sculpin 




Golden redhorse 



Bottom rover 

Many Missouri 
catfish and 
suckers are 
adapted as 
bottom rovers. 
These species have a 

body shape similar to the rover predator except the back 
is humped, the head is flattened, and the pectoral fins 
are enlarged. This type of fish occurs in still to swift 
waters and uses speed to avoid predators. The mouths 
of bottom rovers are placed in several different positions 
depending on their feeding style. Omnivours like catfish 
have a terminal mouth that allows them to take prey if the 
opportunity arises, generalist bottom feeders like many 
suckers have a subterminal mouth, and bottom feeders like 
carp have ventral mouths with protrusible lips for sucking 
ooze. Many bottom rovers also have well-developed barbels 
for locating food by feel. 

Surface- oriented 

Missouri's 

topminnows 

and studfish 

are surface-oriented 

species. They are typically 

small bodied and have a flat head with upturned mouth. 

Their dorsal fin is moved back on their body. This type of 

fish occurs in still waters and feeds on organisms that fall 

in the water. Many surface-oriented species can survive in 

deoxygenated waters by breathing the surface layer of water 

that always contains some oxygen. 



Note: See page 10 for illustrations of external fish anatomy. 




Blackstriped 
topminnow 




Although most species of minnows in 
Missouri remain small throughout their 
lives; several minnow species grow to large 
sizes. The common carp, a non-native minnow, 
first stocked into Missouri in 1879, is known 
to attain a size of nearly 50 pounds. 

The common carp is dwarfed by another 
non-native minnow that now occurs in our 
waters. The bighead carp is known to reach a 
weight of more than 90 pounds. 



Chestnut Lamprey 



Scientific name Ichthyomyzon castaneus 

Ichthyomyzon is from Greek meaning "sucker of fish," and 

castaneus also is from Greek and refers to "having chestnut 

color." 

Average size of adults 8 to 10 inches 

Lifespan 

• Thought to live for a period of 3 to 6 years in 
Missouri as ammocetes, or larvae 

• May live for another 2 years as a mature adult 

Habitat 

• Large streams and small rivers of the 
Mississippi River system 

• Ammocetes are found buried in stable, soft 
silt and muck of clear flowing streams. 

Food 

• Ammocetes filter tiny algae and protozoa from the 
soft sediments and water just above them. 

• Adults attach to sides of a variety of fish including carp 
suckers, catfishes, sturgeons, paddlefish and sunfishes, 
where they consume the tissue and body fluids of host fish. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Chestnut colored eel-like fish that have a cartilaginous, 
boneless skeleton 








10 30 | 50 MILES 






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MSmM^ triiSJi 




• Adults have well-developed, rasp-like oral disc, seven 
pore-like gill openings, no paired fins and a single nostril. 

• Ammocetes are eyeless and have a horseshoe-shaped hood 
as a mouth. 

Interesting facts 

• Adults migrate upstream into small spawning streams. 

• Once spawning activities are completed, the adults die. 




<JSHr 



Scientific name Acipenser fulvescens 

Acipenser is taken from Latin meaning "sturgeon," and 

fulvescens also is from Latin meaning "reddish yellow." 

Average Size Of adults One of the largest Mississippi Valley 
fish. Reported to reach 8 feet in length and 200 pounds 
in Missouri River. Historically reported at more than 300 
pounds. 

Lifespan Known to live 152 years 

Habitat 

• Found in Missouri in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers 
inhabiting deepest parts of channels and deep pools 

• In northern portions of its range, fish also inhabit deep 
natural lakes such as Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods. 

Food 

• Young lake sturgeons ingest small crustaceans and small 
aquatic insects. 

• The diet of adults commonly includes small mollusks, 
aquatic insect larvae, algae, plant matter, crayfish and 
occasionally small fish that are sucked from the bottom. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Cone-shaped snout partially covered by plates and the 
upper lobe of tail fin does not have a filament 

• A small opening, or spiracle, is present above and slightly 
behind the eye. 



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p| ;: "J^\{{: lip 



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• Lower lip has two lobes, and the nostril opening located 
closest to the eye is smaller than the eye. 

Interesting facts 

• Primitive fish in some ways resembling sharks in 
appearance 

• Overharvest, dam construction and habitat loss have 
greatly reduced their numbers since 1900. 

• Grow extremely slowly, with males not maturing sexually 
until an age of 20 years and females at the age of 25 years 



Pallid Sturgeon 




Scientific name Scaphirhynchus albus 
Scaphirhynchus is from Greek meaning "spade 
snout," and albus is from Latin meaning "white." 

Average size of adults 30 -72 inches and up to 
100 pounds 

Lifespan 

• Known to live at least 40 years 

• Males mature at around 7 years of age, while females 
may not spawn until 15-20 years old. 

Habitat 

• Bottom dwellers in the Missouri and 
Mississippi rivers in Missouri / 

• Found in areas of strong current that have 
firm sand substrates in the main river channels 

Food Small fishes and immature aquatic insects that 
are sucked from the bottom sediments 




Identifying characteristics 

• Similar to shovelnose sturgeon, but with a longer and 
more pointed snout 

• Base of the inner barbels are weakly fringed, and the 
base of the inner barbels is less than half the width of the 
outer barbel bases. 








• Belly has only scattered embedded plates or is bare. 

Interesting facts 

• Once a commercially fished species, overharvest, dam 
construction and habitat loss have reduced their numbers 
to dangerously low levels. 

• Another threat to their survival is hybridization with the 
more common shovelnose sturgeon. 




Shovelnose Sturgeon 



Scientific name Scaphirhynchus platorynchus 
Scaphirhynchus is from Greek meaning "spade snout," and 
platorynchus also is from Greek indicating "broad snout." 

Average Size Of adults Up to 30 inches, rarely exceeds 
5 pounds 

Lifespan At least 14 years and likely longer; sexually mature 
at 5-7 years of age 

Habitat Usually found in open, flowing channels of larger 
rivers with sandy or gravel bottoms 

Food Bottom feeding fish that 
consume large numbers of 
aquatic invertebrates such 
as midge, caddis fly, mayfly 
and stonefly larvae 

Identifying characteristics 

• Flattened, shovel-shaped snout 

• Upper tail fin lobe has a long, slender filament, which 
may break off in adults. 

• Fringed barbels are present, and the lip has 4 lobes. 

• No spiracle, the small round hole found above the eye in 
lake sturgeon 

• Similar to pallid sturgeon with following exceptions: 
shorter and less pointed snout, bases of inner barbels 
are about equal distant between the mouth and snout 
tip, inner barbels are more fringed and thicker, width 




of barbel bases are more than half the width of the outer 
barbel bases and the fish's belly is covered with plates 

Interesting facts 

• Most abundant sturgeon in Mississippi and Missouri River 
systems, but numbers declining likely due to overharvest, 
dam construction and habitat alteration 

• As many as 150,000 pounds of shovelnose sturgeon were 
commercially harvested annually in the early 1900s. 

• Species migrates extensively and has been documented to 
travel as far as 560 miles. 

• Cartilaginous, boneless skeleton like other sturgeon species 




MISSOURI STATE AQUATIC ANIMAL 

Paddlefish 



Scientific name Polyodon spathula 

Polyodon is 

derived from 

Greek meaning 

"many toothed" 

(referring to fish's gill rakers), 

and spathula is derived from Latin and 

refers to the spatula-shaped rostrum, or paddle. 

Average size of adults 

• One of the largest and fastest growing freshwater fish in 
North America 

• Average adults range from 20 to 50 pounds, although 
historic reports list fish more than 200 pounds. 

• Largest fish reported from Missouri is more than 
130 pounds. 

Lifespan 20-30 years 

Habitat 

• Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their larger tributaries 
and impoundments where they have been introduced 

• Prefer slow-moving waters of large pools and oxbows 

Food Although paddlefish are one of the largest freshwater 
fish in North America, their diet consists almost exclusively 
of microscopic zooplankton. It was once thought that 
the fish's rostrum, or paddle, was used to stir up bottom 
sediments so that the fish could feed on bottom dwelling 
aquatic invertebrates. It is now believed that the rostrum 
serves to detect small electrical currents that are created by 
large clouds of zooplankton. When plankton are detected, 
paddlefish open their huge mouths and swim through the 
plankton, straining food from water that is forced over its 
gills by specialized gill rakers. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large rostrum, or paddle 

• Bluish grey to nearly black in color on top, grading to 
white on the belly 

• No scales 




J / \ ■■ I " -fk' ^ W< ° IC 30 50 MILES 












• Like sharks, they are devoid of bones 
and have a cartilaginous skeleton 

• Gill covering is a long pointed fleshy flap. 

• Caudal, or tail, fin is deeply forked. 

Interesting facts 

• Prehistoric fish virtually unchanged through time 

• Only other species of paddlefish that exist is a close 
relative found in the Yangtze River system in China. 

• Under natural conditions mature fish migrate upstream 
during periods of high river flows to silt-free gravel riffles 
in attempts to spawn. The dam on Truman Reservoir on 
the Osage River eliminated the only known paddlefish 
spawning sites in Missouri, and populations are currently 
maintained by hatchery stockings. 

• Known to move great distances. A fish stocked in the 
Arkansas River system in Oklahoma traveled about 1,000 
miles to South Dakota before being caught. 

• Dam construction, overharvest and habitat alteration 
has greatly reduced the numbers of paddlefish. Since 
paddlefish eggs are used for caviar, poaching has 
contributed to the species decline. There has been recent 
interest in raising paddlefish specifically for caviar. 

• This popular game fish must be caught by snagging 
because they strain their food from water and will not 
bite a hook. 

• Established as the official Missouri State Aquatic Animal 
on May 23, 1997 




LongnoseGar 




Scientific name Lepisosteus osseus 

Lepisosteus is from Greek meaning "scales of bone," and 

osseus is taken from Latin meaning "bone." 

Average Size Of adults Commonly reach 3 feet in length 
and 5-6 pounds; maximum size in Missouri is 59 inches 
and 3 1 pounds 

Lifespan Males rarely live more than 1 1 years. Females can 
live 20 years or more. 

Habitat 

• Most widely distributed gar in Missouri, found in nearly 
every major stream and impoundment in the state 



• Typically inhabits sluggish pools and backwaters of streams 
and deeper open water areas of lakes 

Food Like most fish, young gar begin feeding on zooplankton. 
At 1 to 2 inches in size, they switch to a diet solely of fish. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Distinct long and narrow snout. The width of the snout at 
the nostrils is less than the diameter of the eye. 

• Large teeth on the upper jaw in single rows on each side 

• Brown or dark olive on upper parts, grading to white on 
the belly 

• Numerous rounded black spots on the body 

• Young fish have a distinct mid-body stripe. 



Bow fin 





Scientific navr\eAmia calva 
Amia is the name of an 
ancient fish, and calva 
is Latin for "smooth," 
presumably referring to 
the bowfin's scaleless head. 

Other common names Dogfish, grinnel, 
grindle, cypress trout, cotton fish, mudfish 

Average size of adults 18 to 24 inches and 3 to 5 pounds; 
maximum size of about 36 inches and 9 pounds 

Lifespan 10 years in the wild, but captive specimens are 
known to live 30 years 

Habitat 

• Clear water with abundant vegetation of swamps, 
sloughs, backwaters, oxbows, ditches and pools with little 
or no current 

• Backwaters and oxbows of the Mississippi River are 
commonly inhabited by bowfin. 

Food 

• Young feed primarily on microcrustaceans and aquatic 
insects. 

• Adults eat fish, crayfish, insects, worms and frogs. 

M ost active Primarily nocturnal with peak activity at dawn 
and dusk 

Identifying characteristics 

• Back and sides are mottled olive-green. 

• Belly is a pale green to white. 

• Black spot ringed by yellow or orange is near the 
upper portion of the base of the tail fin, which is most 
prominent in young and adult males. 

• Only Missouri fish with a gular plate — an oval bony plate 
between the lower jaws 

• Each nostril has a single barbel-like tube, and the large 
mouth has many teeth. 







• Not easily confused with any other Missouri fish species 

Interesting facts 

• The name "bowfin" refers to the long dorsal fin that 
moves in a wave-like, undulating motion. 

• Readily takes natural baits and occasionally an artificial 
lure, including topwater baits. When hooked, the bowfin 
is an extremely hard fighter. 

• The soft, jelly-like flesh is considered by most to be 
unpalatable. One early ichthyologist likened eating 
bowfin to chewing cotton. 

• The male makes a nest in a shallow, weedy area by biting 
and rubbing off vegetation and sweeping the area clean of 
debris by fanning motions of the tail. The male protects 
the eggs and the young for several weeks after they leave 
the nest. 

• Bowfins can inhabit waters where other fish can't find 
enough oxygen, such as stagnant pools and shallow water 
that is in the process of drying out because they have 

an air bladder that processes oxygen the fish gulps from 
the air. 

• There is some evidence the bowfin can aestivate for 
short periods of time. Aestivation is the ability of a fish 
to become dormant, usually in a "wet" cocoon, during 
period of drought until its habitat gets re-flooded. 




m 




Interesting facts 

• Fish spawn in compact groups, 
and their spectacular splashing and 

thrashing can be seen and heard from considerable distances. 

• Newly hatched young have an adhesive disc by which they attach 
to submerged substrate. 

• Takes "gulps" of air into its lunglike air bladder, which allows it to 
supplement oxygen taken in through gills and to survive in water 
with low amounts of dissolved oxygen 



i 








American Eel 



Scientific name Anguilla rostrata 

Anguilla is Latin for eel, and rostrata is Latin for beaked, 

which refers to the snout or long nose. 

Average Size Of adults Females are usually 16 to 33 inches 
in length with a weight of 0.25 to 0.75 pound. Maximum 
size in Missouri is 37 inches and 4.5 pounds, elsewhere 
American eels are reported to attain a size of 62 inches 
and 7 pounds in weight. Male eels rarely exceed 18 inches 
in length. 

Lifespan 6 to 20 years for females, 
and 3 to 10 years for males 

Habitat Moderate to large Missouri streams and rivers 
in deep pools around cover, such as logs and boulders 

Food 

• Young freshwater eels, or elvers, eat aquatic insects. 

• Adults primarily consume crayfish and fish. 

Most active At night 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender snake-like body with a small pointed head 

• Back and sides are brown or green in color with the belly 
yellow or white 

• Dorsal, tail and anal fins form a single, continuous fin. 

Interesting facts 

• All eels in Missouri are female. Male eels spend their entire 
adult lives in estuaries along the coast, and only the females 
migrate to inland waters. 

• Most of the adult life of the female American eels occur 
in freshwater (and males in brackish coastal waters), but 
eels then migrate to breed at great depths in Atlantic 
Ocean (saltwater) south of Bermuda. Fish that migrate 
from freshwater streams to the ocean to spawn are called 
catadromous. It is assumed adult eels breed once then die. 






>T ''^y ' "'' "'• <f' J'/'','-" '"•- ' ly ~"\ ' H 10 30 50 MILES 






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' When young eels reach coastal waters they are transparent 
and called "glass eels." As the young eels attain pigment 
and begin the journey into freshwater they are called 
elvers. 

' The eel's body appears to be smooth because its scales are 
so small. 

' The rapid serpentine movement and the smooth slime 
covered skin make the eel almost impossible to hold 
when captured and has given rise to the "slippery as an 
eel" saying. 

1 The American eel is considered an uncommon catch by 
Missouri sport anglers. This species is known to take 
natural baits and rarely takes artificial baits. 

• Although eel is not commonly consumed by North 
Americans, smoked eel is considered fine table fare in 
Europe and other parts of the world. In addition to 
smoked, eels are known to be quite tasty fried or pickled. 

• The American eel population in Missouri has been 
reduced by large dams restricting its ability to migrate. 



External anatomy of a fish 



tail fin 




spinous 
dorsal 



lateral line 



soft dorsal 



nostril 




pectoral 
fin 
breast 
l cover pelvic 

fin 



bel| V anal 

anus fh 



10 



Gizzard Shad 




Scientific name 
Dorosoma cepedianum 
Dorosoma is Greek for "lance 
body" in reference to the shape 
of the young, and cepedianum 
is named for the famous French 
naturalist, Citoyen Lacepede. 

Average size of adults 9 to 14 inches 

Lifespan 6 to 10 years 

Habitat A variety of quiet- water habitats including natural 
lowland lakes and ponds, pools and backwaters of streams 
and rivers, and artificial impoundments 

Food Omnivorous, feeds on plankton, algae, and detritus 

M ost active Dusk and night 

Identifying characteristics 

• Silvery, moderately deep-bodied fish with a large lustrous 
purple spot (maybe faint in adults) just behind the upper 
end of the gill cover 

• Deeply forked tail, keel-shaped belly 




Vt, 







• Last ray of the dorsal (top) fin is prolonged into a long, 
slender filament. 

Interesting facts 

• Common name is derived from its muscular stomach or 
"gizzard" which grinds its food. 

• One of the most common and abundant fish in Missouri 
and an important prey for most game fish 

• Young travel in large schools often near the water's surface 
and frequently leap out of the water or skip along the 
surface. 



Central Stoneroller 

Scientific name Campostoma pullum 
Campostoma is Greek for 
"curved mouth," and 
pullum is Latin, meaning 
"dusky" or "dark colored." 

Average size of adults Commonly 

3 to 6.5 inches; maximum length 8 inches 

Lifespan 3 to 4 years 

Habitat Small- to medium-sized 
streams with moderate to high 
gradient and rocky or bedrock 
substrates in or near riffles 

Food Herbivorous, feeding 
on algae and bottom ooze 
scraped from rocks 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Brownish-colored minnow with small eyes 

• Lower jaw has a flat shelf-like extension used to 
scrape algae from rocks. 

Interesting facts 

• Commonly seen "flashing" on the stream bottom in large 
schools as they feed 

• Early spring spawners that build shallow pit nests in small 
gravel 

• These fish leap clear of the water at frequent intervals. 
When large schools are present, they seem to surface in 




Largescale stoneroller 



this manner almost continuously. 

The closely related largescale stoneroller is similar in 

appearance and ecology, but is limited to the Ozarks. 



11 



Common Carp 




Scientific name 
Cyprinus carpio 
Cyprinus is an ancient 
Greek name for carp, 
and carpio is Latin for carp. 

Other common names 

Carp, German carp, Israeli carp, 

mirror carp, leather carp 

Average size of adults 

12 to 24 inches; maximum length 48 inches; 10 to 20 

pounds, known to reach 100 pounds where native (Asia) 

Lifespan 12 years 

Range Statewide 

Habitat 

• High populations in natural and artificial impoundments, 
large rivers 

• Present but less abundant in most other aquatic habitats 

• Most abundant in shallow areas of lakes and deep holes 
in rivers 

Food Omnivorous, feeding on a variety of small, live 
invertebrates, plant matter and other organic matter 

M OSt active Late evening and early morning 



Identifying characteristics 

• Two barbels on each side of mouth 

• Large bodied, saw-toothed spine at front of both dorsal 
and anal fin 

Interesting facts 

• Native of Asia that was brought to Europe centuries ago 
and to the United States as early as 1831 

• Introduced in Missouri in 1879 

• Adaptable species that is now one of the most widespread 
and abundant large fishes in the state 

• Commonly thought to cause deterioration of aquatic 
habitats due to their vigorous feeding habits 




Grass Carp 




Scientific name 
Ctenopharyngodon idella 
Ctenopharyngodon is 
Greek for "comb-like 
throat-teeth," and 
idella is Greek for 
"distinct." 

Other common names White amur 

Average size of adults 12 to 24 inches; 
maximum length 48 inches 

Lifespan Up to 20 years 

Habitat Natural and artificial impoundments, large rivers 

Food Herbivorous, feeding on a variety of plant matter 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large bodied 

• Broad head with terminal, transverse mouth 

• Both dorsal and anal fin lack spines at leading edge 







Interesting facts 

• A native of eastern Asia that was brought into the United 
States in 1963 and was introduced into Arkansas shortly 
thereafter 

• First reported from Missouri water in 1971 in the 
Mississippi River when a 21 -pound specimen was caught 

• Used to control vegetation in ponds and lakes, but 
commonly remove too much vegetation and deteriorate 
habitat for game fish 



12 



Silver Carp 




Scientific name 
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix 
Hypophthalmichthys is 
Greek for "underneath 
eye," and molitrix is Latin 
for "molar-like." 

Average size of adults 12 to 24 inches; 
maximum length 48 inches 

Lifespan Mature at 4 years or more; 
maximum lifespan exceeds 12 years 

Range Large rivers and lakes throughout Missouri 

Habitat Large rivers and the lower reaches of their 
tributaries, floodplain pools, reservoirs and reservoir 
tailwaters 

Food 

• Young feed on plankton strained from the water column. 

• Adults feed on bottom detritus and algae. 

M ost active Throughout the year, but little is known of 
daily activities 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large bodied with small scales 

• Ventral (belly) keel extends from head to vent (anus) 

• Large head with upturned mouth and eyes on underside 

• Head relatively smaller, and eyes higher on head than 
bighead carp 



Interesting facts 

• Native to big rivers of eastern Asia, especially China 

• Introduced in United States to help improve water quality 
in wastewater treatment plants by feeding on very small 
plankton, including green and blue-green algae 

• First found in Missouri in early 1980s 

• Used as food in other parts of the world and has 
been known to make up more than 90 percent of the 
commercial fish catch (along with bighead carp) in 
introduced areas 

• Have become abundant and probably compete with native 
plankton eaters, including paddlefish and gizzard shad 

• Spawning is triggered by a rise in river level, but not 
known to successfully spawn in ponds or lakes. Eggs are 
suspended in the river current and hatch in two days. 

• Adults leap from the water at the slightest disturbance 
creating a potential hazard for boaters. 





Bighead Carp 



Scientific name 
Hypophthalmichthys nobilis 
Hypophthalmichthys is Greek 
for "underneath eye," and 
nobilis is Latin for "famous." 



Average size of adults 

12 to 24 inches and 12 to 15 pounds; 

maximum length 48 inches and 80 pounds 

Lifespan 10 years 

Range Large rivers and lakes throughout Missouri 

Habitat Large rivers and the lower reaches of their tributaries, 
floodplain pools, reservoirs and reservoir tailwaters 

Food Feed on plankton strained from the water; eat larger 
plankton than silver carp, including zooplankton and algae 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large bodied with small scales and scattered, irregular 
dark blotches over the entire body 

• Large head with upturned mouth and eyes on underside of 
head looking down 

• Ventral (belly) keel extends from pelvic fins to vent (anus) 



Interesting facts 

• Native to big rivers of eastern Asia, especially China 

• Introduced to remove excessive nutrients in waste 
treatment and fertilized fish ponds 

• First evidence of reproduction in Missouri in 1989 

• Used as food (see silver carp entry) 

• Have become abundant and probably compete with native 
plankton eaters, including paddlefish and gizzard shad 

• Spawning is triggered by a rise in river level, but not 
known to successfully spawn in ponds or lakes. Eggs are 
semi-boyant and suspend in the river current. 

• Not as prolific a jumper as silver carp, but also leap from 
water when disturbed. 



13 






Red Shiner 



Scientific name Cyprinella lutrensis 
Cyprinella is from Latin, 
meaning "a diminutive carp;" 
and lutrensis is from the 
Latin word lutra, meaning 
"otter." The species was first 
known to occur in Otter Creek, Ark. 

Average size of adults Commonly 

1.8 to 3 inches; maximum length 3.5 inches 

Lifespan 3 years 

Habitat 

• In streams of all sizes but is most abundant in large 
creeks and rivers 

• Inhabits a variety of habitats, from riffles to quiet pools 

Food Primarily insects 
Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• A rather slab-sided minnow 

• Yellowish-olive back with dark edgings on scales 

• Sides are silvery with blue reflections. 

Interesting facts 

• Most abundant and widely distributed minnow in the 
prairie region of north and west Missouri 










--; ^i-V- Vl ••■■'- - «** 



i ■ r---;-/i ; i 




male in breeding color 



• Distribution is largely related to competition with closely 
related species including whitetail, bluntface, blacktail, 
spotfin and steelcolor shiners. 

• Has adaptable spawning requirements; may spawn 
on sunfish nests, gravelly riffles, submerged logs or 
submerged plants from late May to early September 




Duskystripe Shiner 



Scientific name Luxilus pilsbryi 
Luxilus means "light" in Latin; pilsbryi refers to 
Dr. Henry A. Pilsbry (1862-1957), a prominent 
malacologist (study of mollusks). 

Average size of adults 3.5 to 4.5 inches, with a 
maximum size near 5 inches 

Lifespan Rarely older than 4 years 

Habitat Most commonly found in Ozark headwater 
streams with swift riffles and pools with clean gravel 
bottoms. In Missouri, only found in the White River 
system of southwest and south-central Missouri 

Food Aquatic and terrestrial insects 

M ost active Daylight; peak activity at dawn and dusk 

Identifying characteristics 

• Dark stripe along mid-side extending from nose to tail; 
an iridescent greenish-brown back with a narrow lighter 
colored band above the lateral dark stripe; silvery-white 
lower side and belly 

• Breeding males have bright red fins, cheeks, and 
underside of head and body. Tip of snout is blue. 

• Similar in appearance to bleeding and cardinal shiners, 
but the ranges for these species do not overlap with the 
duskystripe shiner 




> Duskystripe shiner P 7? 

1 Cardinal shiner 
1 Bleeding shiner 




Interesting facts 

• Typically found in stream pools in mixed species schools 
with a number of other minnows 

• Spawn over the gravel depression around the mound 
nests of hornyhead chubs, usually in close association 
with another minnow species, southern redbelly dace, 
Ozark minnow and rosyface shiner 



14 




Striped Shiner/Common Shiner 



Scientific name Luxilus chrysocephalus 

Luxilus is from Latin meaning "light," and chrysocephalus is 

from Greek meaning "golden head." 

Average Size Of adults Commonly 3 to 5 inches; 
maximum length 7 inches 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Clear, permanent-flowing streams with clean gravelly or 
rocky bottoms 

• Prefers relatively warm and quiet water, and is less tolerant 
of turbidity than its close relative, the common shiner 

Food Insects, fish, crustaceans, plant material, 
algae and bottom ooze 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• A rather large, deep-bodied minnow 
with large silvery scales on sides 

• Back is olive-green with a broad dark 
stripe along the midline. 

• Dusky pigment is found on the chin. 

Interesting facts 

• Often hybridizes with bleeding, duskystripe 
and rosyface shiners since all share the 
spawning nests of the hornyhead chub. 

• Closely related to the common shiner that is similar 
in appearance and ecology but has a more northern 
distribution. 




• Striped shiner 

• Common shiner 




striped shiner 
male in breeding color 




common shiner 
male in breeding color 




Golden Shiner 



Scientific name Notemigonus crysoleucas 
From Greek, notemigonus means 
"angled back" and crysoleucas 
means "golden white." 





Average size of adults 
3 to 6 inches; maximum 
length exceeds 8 inches 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Largest populations found in sloughs, ponds, lakes, 
impoundments and quiet pools of streams 

• Rarely found in stream sections with noticeable current 

Food Both plant material and invertebrates 
Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Deep-bodied minnow, back greenish-olive with a faint 
dusky stripe along the midline 

• Sides are golden or silvery, and the belly is silvery white. 






rpn 

3050 MILES 




. : ;.'-v.H ..■*; v-v :*$* ^ — 







• Has a fleshy "keel" along midline of the belly from the 
anus forward to the pelvic fin bases 

Interesting facts 

• An important baitfish, well suited for pond culture and is 
often stocked as prey for game fish 

• One of the largest minnows native to Missouri and the 
only minnow with a fleshy keel 

• Occasionally captured by fishermen using small spinning 
and natural baits 



15 



Hornyhead Chub 



Scientific Name Nocomis biguttatus 

Nocomis is a Native American name applied to a group of 
fishes; and biguttatus is from Latin, meaning "two-spotted," 
possibly referring to spots on either side of a breeding 
male's head. 

Average Size Of adults 5 to 7 inches; maximum length 
10 inches 

Lifespan 3 or 4 years 

Habitat 

• Clear Ozark streams with permanent flow and clean 
gravel 

• Adults are found near riffles while young are usually 
found in pools, often hiding within plants. 

Food Omnivorous, feeding on both plants and animals. 
Prey animals are mostly insects. 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Moderately large, slender minnow with a rather large 
nearly horizontal mouth 

• Back and upper sides are olive-brown with large dark- 
edged scales 

• Lower sides and belly are yellowish-white. 

• Males commonly have tubercles (bony projections) on 
top of head and a red spot behind the eye. 











^J.U'', ,- ; __- \ - 



10 30 50 MILES 



1 Hornyhead chub 
1 Redspot chub 




Interesting facts 

• In late spring, males build conspicuous mounds of gravel 
1 to 3 feet in diameter on which to spawn. Numerous 
other minnows use these nests for spawning. 

• Similar in appearance and ecology to the redspot chub 
that has a more limited and separate distribution. 





Ozark Minnow 



Scientific name Notropis nubilus 
Notropis is from Greek meaning "black keel;" nubilus 
is from Latin, meaning "dusky," in reference to the 
body color. 

Average size of adults 

2.2 to 2.8 inches; maximum length 3 inches 

Lifespan 3 years 

Habitat 

• Most abundant in creeks and small rivers with gravelly or 
rocky bottoms and strong permanent flow 

• Usually found in protected backwaters near riffles or in 
pools directly below riffles 

Food Omnivorous, feeding mostly on plant material with 
some animal matter 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Small slender minnow with dark yellow-olive back and 
upper sides 

• Dark-edged scales 

• Lower sides are silvery with a prominent dusky stripe at 
midline that extends forward past the eye. 



*$* 




Interesting facts 

• One of the most common minnow species in the Ozark 
uplands 

• Often seen in large schools with other common minnows 
such as bleeding, cardinal and duskystripe shiners 



16 




Southern Redbelly Dace 



Scientific name Phoxinus erythrogaster 
From Greek, phoxinus means 
"tapering" and erythrogaster 
means "red belly." 

Average size of adults 

1.6 to 2.8 inches; maximum length 3 inches 

Lifespan 2 years 

Habitat Small creeks and spring branches of the Ozarks 
where there is permanent flow of cool, clear water and a 
gravelly or sandy bottom 

Food Herbivorous, feeding primarily on algae and detritus 
with larval insects in lesser quantities 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender minnow with two dusky stripes separated by a 
broad golden or yellowish stripe along the side 

• Olive-brown back with scattered dark spots, and a white 
belly 

• Scales are very small, barely visible to the naked eye. 

• Breeding males are brilliant red on undersurface of head 
and body with lower fin and undersurface near tail lemon 
yellow. 




Ill 



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_ - f^"^ 

r . " ! '' ' — " 10 , 30 50MILES 



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male in breeding color 

Interesting facts 

• Dazzling breeding colors and a gentle disposition make 
the southern redbelly dace an excellent aquarium fish. 

• Often school with other minnows such as stonerollers 
and creek chubs 






Fathead Minnow 



Scientific name Pimephales promelas 
From Greek, pimephales, meaning 
"fat-head," and promelas 
meaning "before back," in 
reference to the dark head 
that develops in breeding males. 

Other common names 

Blackhead minnow, rosy red (color variation) 

Average Size Of adults 1.6 to 2.8 inches; maximum 3 inches 

Lifespan 3 years 

Habitat 

• In small prairie streams in northern Missouri where it is 
abundant in intermittent pools 

• Can tolerate high water temperatures and low oxygen 
levels that commonly occur during dry, summer weather 

Food Omnivorous, feeding on mostly algae and other plant 
material with some animal matter 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• A chubby minnow with a blunt, rounded snout and short, 
rounded fins 

• Dusky stripe along the midside and a spot at the base of 
the tailfin 

• Breeding males are mostly black with yellowish bars 



5 iWM i 



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/^/^ /« breeding color 



encircling the body behind head and beneath dorsal fin 
and a distinctive, fleshy pad that develops behind the 
head only during the spawning season. 

Interesting facts 

• A hardy fish well-suited for propagation in ponds 

• Often stocked as prey for game fish and is commonly 
sold for bait 



17 



Creek Chub 



Scientific name Semotilus atromaculatus 
Semotilus from Greek sema meaning "banner," and 
atromaculatus from Latin meaning "black spot." 

Average Size Of adults 5 to 7 inches; maximum length 
12 inches 

Lifespan 8 years 

Habitat Widely distributed, but mainly occurs in 
small headwater creeks that may become intermittent 
in dry weather 

Food A generalized carnivore, eating mostly insects, 
but also small fishes, crayfish, worms and mollusks 
in lesser quantities 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• A slender, fine-scaled minnow with a black blotch at front 
of the dorsal fin and a black spot at the base of the tail fin 

• Dark olive back with silvery sides that have greenish or 
purplish reflections and a thick dusky stripe 

• Fins are yellowish or light olive, and the belly is silvery- 
white. 

Interesting facts 

• Largest minnow native to Missouri 




A hardy minnow that is often caught by anglers with 
small lures and makes an excellent bait 
Males construct spawning nests during spring composed 
of a long, low ridge of washed gravel with an oval pit at 
its downstream end. Numerous other minnows also use 
creek chub nests when spawning. 




River Carpsucker 




Scientific name Carpiodes carpio 

From Latin, carpiodes means "carp-like" and carpio 

means carp. 

Other common names White carp, silver carp, quillback 

Average Size Of adults 12 to 15 inches; maximum size 
25 inches 

Lifespan 10 years 

Range Primarily prairie regions of Missouri, but 
sporadically in the Ozarks 

Habitat 

• Rivers, streams and impoundments 

• Prefers turbid waters 

Food Omnivorous, feeding on algae, detritus, plants 
and invertebrates 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large bodied with large scales 

• Whitish lower fins whitish 

• Long sickle-shaped dorsal fin 

• Center of lower lip with nipple-like projection 

I nteresting fact Most abundant and widespread 
Missouri carpsucker 




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18 



White Sucker 



Scientific name Catostomus commersoni 
Catostomus is Greek for "subterminal mouth," and 
commersoni is named for Phelebert Commerson, an early 
French naturalist. 

Other common names Black sucker 

Average Size Of adults 9 to 15 inches; maximum size 
23 inches 

Lifespan 17 years 

Habitat Deep vegetated pools in the Ozarks, and deep 
permanent pools in small prairie streams 

Food Invertivorous, feeding on invertebrates on 
the bottom of pools 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Smaller bodied sucker with fine scales 

• Short dorsal fin 

• Lips broken covered with small bumps 

Interesting fact Found primarily in small streams, unlike 
other Missouri suckers 




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--» 




Northern Hogsucker 




Sc i en t i fie name Hypentelium nigricans 

Hypentelium is Greek for "below 5 lobes" in reference to 

the lower lip, and nigricans is Latin for "blackish." 

Other common names Hog molly, box head 

Average Size Of adults 8 to 15 inches; maximum size 
17 inches 

Lifespan 11 years 

Habitat Deep riffles, runs and pools over silt-free sand, 
gravel and cobble 

Food Invertivorous, feeding on invertebrates rooted from 
the substrate 

M ost active Dusk and dawn 

Identifying characteristics 

• Medium-sized sucker with large square head 

• Head concave between eyes, lips highly protrusable and 
covered with bumps 

Interesting fact This species' coloration makes it almost 
invisible when resting on a gravel stream bed. 








19 



Bigmouth Buffalo 




Scientific name Ictiobus cyprinellus 

Ictiobus is Greek for "bull fish," and cyprinellus is Latin for 

"small carp." 

Other common names Gourdhead, redmouth buffalo, 
common buffalo 

Average Size Of adults 15 to 27 inches; maximum size 
48 inches 

Lifespan 10 years 

Habitat Deeper pools of rivers, streams and impoundments 

Food Omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates and detritus 
from the bottom 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large bodied with large scales 

• Dark lower fins 

• Long sickle-shaped dorsal fin 

• Oblique mouth 

Interesting facts 

• Largest Missouri sucker 

• Can be propagated for food in ponds 




30 50 MILES 


















Golden Redhorse 



Scientific name Moxostoma erythrurum 

From Greek, moxostoma means "mouth to suck" and 

erythrurum means "red tailed." 

Other common names Yellow sucker, golden sucker 

Average Size Of adults 9 to 15 inches; maximum length 
17 inches 

Lifespan 11 years 

Range Ozark and northeast Missouri streams 

Habitat Deeper pools of clear, gravelly rivers and streams 

Food Invertivorous, feeding on invertebrates on the 
bottom of pools 

M ost active Unknown 

Identifying characteristics 

• Smaller bodied sucker with large scales 

• Short dorsal fin 

• Lower lips broken into parallel folds, and rear 
margin of lower lips forming V-shaped angle 

I nteresting fact Most commonly gigged sucker in Missouri 




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20 



Black Bullhead 




Scientific name Arneiurus melas 
From Greek, ameriurus 
means "unforked 
tail fin" and melas 
means "black." 

Other common names 
Mud cat, black catfish, 
yellow belly bullhead, 
horned pout 

Average size of adults 

Up to 1 6 inches long and 2 to 3 pounds 

Lifespan Normally 5 years, but can be up to 10 

Habitat Prefer turbid, silty water with little or no current 

Food Omnivorous bottom feeders, eating insects, mollusks, 
crustaceans, fish, and plant material, including dead and 
decaying matter 

M ost active Adults feed primarily at night, while the 
young are most active at dawn and dusk. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Smooth, scaleless skin and barbels, or "whiskers," around 
the mouth, like all catfish 



• Only young, spawning males are truly black; dark 
greenish brown is the most common coloration. 

• Square tail and a rounded anal fin 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in May or June with one or both parents selecting 
and guarding nest sites beneath logs or in weedy cover 

• May be caught on worms and a variety of other baits 

• Trot or jug lines, or rod and reel are favored fishing 
methods. 





Blue Catfish 



Scientific name Ictalurus furcatus 
Ictalurus is from Greek, 
meaning "fish cat;" 
furcatus is from Latin, 
meaning "forked," in 
reference to the tail fin. 

Other common names 

White cat, blue fulton, white fulton, 

silver cat, blue channel cat 

Average size of adults 

• 20 to 44 inches long, weighing 3 to 40 pounds 

• Fish weighing 80-100 pounds are occasionally caught. 

Lifespan Unknown, but probably more than 20 years 

Habitat 

• Missouri's large reservoirs, big rivers and lower reaches of 
major streams 

• Prefer swift chutes and pools with noticeable current 

Food 

• Carnivorous bottom feeders, eating mostly fish and 
invertebrates 

• Use sensitive barbels and smell/taste to locate food 

Most active 

• Deep water of larger pools during the day 

• Shallows or near cover at night to feed 




Uli m 












Identifying characteristics 

• Smooth, scaleless skin and barbels ("whiskers") around 
the mouth like all catfish 

• Deeply forked tail, like the channel catfish, but can be 
distinguished by the straight-edged anal fin 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in late spring or early summer 

• Male, sometimes with the help of the female, selects and 
guards nest site in dark secluded areas such as cavities in 
drift piles, logs, undercut banks and rocks. 

• Trot or jug lines are favored fishing methods. Live or 
fresh-cut bait such as gizzard shad or skipjack herring 
are preferred. 

• In the 1800s, there were reports of specimens weighing as 
much as 315 pounds. 



21 



Catfish identification tips 



Channel catfish 



upper jaw extends 
beyond lower jaw 



tail fin forked 




Blue catfish 



tail fin forked 




upper jaw extends 
beyond lower jaw 



anal fin margin rounded 
with 24-29 rays 



anal fin margin straight 
with 30-35 rays 



Flathead catfish 



upper fin lighter than 
remainder of fin 




Black bullhead 

. barbels 



tail fin square 



lower jaw extends 
beyond upper jaw 



tail fin square 




spines on front of fin 



dark, not mottled 



For species descriptions see back cover and pages 21 and 23. 




Slender Madtom 



Scientific name Noturus exilis 
Noturus is from Greek 
and means "back tail," 
in reference to the 
connection of the adipose 
fin and tail fin; exilis is from 
Latin and means "slim." 

Average size of adults 3 to 5 inches long 

Lifespan 3 years, but could be up to 6 years in captivity 

Habitat Prefer small- to medium-sized streams with rock or 
gravel bottoms, clear water and permanent flow 

Food Larvae of caddisflies, midgeflies and other aquatic 
insects, and filamentous algae on the stream bottom 

M ost active Adults hide beneath rocks during the day and 
forage actively at night. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Smooth, scaleless skin and barbels ("whiskers") around 




the mouth, like all catfish 

• Adipose fin forms a low, keel-like ridge connected to the 
tail fin, rather than a flap-like lobe 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in spring. One parent, probably the male, 
excavates a nest site beneath a rock and guards the nest. 

• All madtoms have sharp pectoral spines with saw teeth 
and mild venom. Being stung or pricked by one of the 
spines cause a burning pain similar to a bee or wasp sting. 



22 



Flathead Catfis 




Scientific name 
Pylodictis olivaris 
Pylodictis is Greek 
for "mud fish" and 
olivaris is Latin for 
"olive-colored." 

Other common names 

Shovelhead cat, yellow cat, mud cat, 

goujon, appaluchion, Johnnie cat 

Average size of adults 15 to 45 inches; 1 to 45 pounds 

Lifespan 

• Unknown, but probably more than 20 years 

• Mature when 4 to 5 years old 

Habitat Prefer reservoirs or large streams with slow current 

Food 

• Smaller flatheads eat insect larvae; adults prefer fish and 
crustaceans. 

• Unlike channel catfish, they are not scavengers and will 
not eat dead or decaying material. 

Most active 

• Adults are solitary, each staking out a favorite spot in 
deeper water or under cover during the day. 

• At night they move into riffles and shallow areas to feed. 



Identifying characteristics 

• Smooth, scaleless skin and barbels ("whiskers") around 
the mouth, like all catfish 

• Broad, flattened head with small eyes on top, a square 
tail, and a rounded anal fin 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in late spring or early summer 

• Male selects and guards nest site in dark secluded areas 
such as cavities in drift piles, logs, undercut banks and 
rocks. 

• Trot or jug lines, or rod and reel are favored fishing 
methods. Only live or fresh-cut baits are effective. 





Chain Pickerel 



Scientific name Esox niger 

In Latin, esox means "pike" and niger refers to "dark" or "black 

Other common names Pike, grass pike 

Average size of adults 16 to 22 inches 

Lifespan 8 to 9 years 

Habitat 

• Streams and some lakes of the southeastern Ozarks 

• Inhabit clear, quiet waters where aquatic vegetation is 
abundant, particularly in backwater sloughs of streams 

Food 

• Adults are carnivorous and feed on other fishes. 

• Young feed on small crustaceans and aquatic insects. 

Most active 

• Dawn and dusk, when feeding 

• Solitary feeders that actively feed in the winter 

Identifying characteristics 

• Elongated body, snout shaped like a duck's bill, large 
mouth with many sharp teeth 

• Back and sides olive or yellowish brown with a chain- 
like pattern of dark lines 

• Dorsal, or back fin, placed far back on the body 

• Similar to the smaller grass pickerel, which attain an 



average size of 1 to 12 inches, but both species seldom 
found in same waters 

Interesting facts 

• Adults lie motionless in dense stands of vegetation and 
ambush prey with a quick darting motion. 

• They are random spawners. Instead of building a nest, 
they spread their eggs with a flick of their tail. A sticky 
coating on eggs allows them to adhere to vegetation. 



23 



Rainbow Trout 



*** 




Scientific name 
Oncorhynchus mykiss 
Oncorhynchus means 
"hooked nose" in 
Greek; "mykiss" is 
the native name for 
rainbow trout of the 
Kamchatka peninsula 
in Asia, where rainbow trout 
were first described in 1792. 

Average Size Of adults 8 to 15 inches; may reach 30 inches 
and 1 8 pounds in Missouri 

Lifespan 4 years, but capable of surviving for 8 or 
more years 

Habitat Cold streams and lakes with water temperatures that 
generally remain less than 70° F 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on aquatic and terrestrial insects, 
crayfish, crustaceans, snails and small fish 

M ost active Dawn and dusk, but also are active throughout 
the day 

Identifying characteristics 

• Sleek, streamlined fish with soft-rayed fins and small scales 

• Sides usually with a pink or reddish longitudinal stripe 



• Small, irregularly-shaped black spots cover much of body, 
dorsal and tail 

• Tail is usually forked, and anal fin usually has 10-12 rays. 

Interesting facts 

• Most common species of trout in Missouri, and one of 
our most popular game fish. 

• Native to the Pacific slope of North America and were 
first introduced into Missouri in 1882. Since then, they 
have established naturally reproducing populations 

in a few spring-fed streams, but most populations are 
maintained through releases of hatchery-reared fish. 

• Anglers can catch rainbow trout in about 130 miles of 
spring-fed streams, Lake Taneycomo and in a few small 
impoundments that are stocked for winter fishing. 



Brown Trout 



*»* 







mm 



Scientific name 
Salmo trutta 
From Latin, salmo 
means "to leap" and 
trutta means "trout." 

Other common names 
German brown 

Average size of adults 
8 to 1 5 inches, but may 
reach 37 inches and 26 pounds 

Lifespan 4 years, but capable of surviving 
for 8 or more years. 

Habitat Cold streams and lakes with water temperatures 
that generally remain less than 70° F 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on aquatic and terrestrial 
insects, crayfish, crustaceans, snails and small fish. Large 
adults feed primarily on fish and crayfish. 

M ost active Dawn and dusk, but are active throughout 
the day 

Identifying characteristics 

• Sleek, streamlined fish with soft-rayed fins and small 
scales 




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M 







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• Body and dorsal fin with round, black spots, body with 
small red or orange spots surrounded by a lighter halo 

• Tail fin is usually not forked and usually without spots. 

• Anal fin usually with 9 rays 

Interesting facts 

• Brown trout are native to Europe and were first 
introduced into Missouri in 1890. 

• All brown trout populations in Missouri are maintained 
through releases of hatchery-reared fish. 

• Generally more difficult for anglers to catch than rainbow 
trout and can grow to large sizes after stocking 

• Found in about 60 miles of spring-fed streams and in 
Lake Taneycomo 



24 



Trout- perch 





Scientific name 

Percopsis omiscomaycus 

Percopsis means 

"perch-like" in Greek, 

and omiscomaycus is 

from an Algonkian Native 

American word referring to trout. 

Average size of adults 3 to 4 inches 

Lifespan 4 to 5 years 

Habitat Deep pools of prairie streams 

Food Feeds mostly on aquatic insects and other 
invertebrates from the stream bottom 

Most active Night 

Identifying characteristics 

• Small size, silvery color with blackish spots in rows 
along upper sides 

• Single dorsal fin, adipose fin present 




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• Body rough to touch 

• Deeply forked tail fin 

Interesting facts 

• Only Missouri fish with both adipose fin and rough- 
edged scales, characteristics of trout and perch, 
respectively — thus the common name trout-perch 

• Most closely related to cavefishes and pirate perch 



Pirate Perch 




Scientific name 

Aphredoderus say anus 

Aphredoderus means 

"excrement throat" in 

Greek and refers to 

the forward position 

of the anus located 

in the throat region; 

and say anus is named 

in tribute of Thomas Say, an 

early 1 9 th century entomologist. 

Average size of adults 3 to 5 inches 

Lifespan 4 years 

Habitat 

• Bottomland lakes, overflow ponds, and quiet pools and 
backwaters of slow moving streams and ditches 

• Inhabits areas with abundant cover consisting of aquatic 
plants or organic debris and no current 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on aquatic insects, small 
crustaceans and small fish 

M ost active Dawn and dusk 







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Identifying characteristics 

• Small size, grayish color heavily speckled with black, 
single dorsal fin, no adipose fin, body rough to touch, 
tail fin slightly notched, but without fork 

• In Missouri, only pirate perch and cavefishes have anus 
located far forward on body in the throat area. 

Interesting facts 

• Anus located far forward is an adaptation to allow for 
the easy transfer of eggs from the anus to the mouth. It 
is believed the eggs are incubated in the female pirate 
perch's gill cavities. 

• Most closely related to cavefishes and trout-perch 



25 



Southern Cavefish 



Scientific name Typhlichthys subterraneus 

Typhlichthys means "blind fish" in Greek; subterraneus is 

Latin meaning "under the earth." 

Average Size Of adults 1.5 to 2.5 inches; maximum size 
of 3.5 inches 

Lifespan Unknown, believed to be longer than 10 years 

Habitat Only in cave streams, wells and spring outlets 

Food Microcrustaceans, crayfish and aquatic insect larvae 

M ost active Not believed to have daily peak activity 
times, an adaptation of living in complete darkness of 
a cave or underground environment 

Identifying characteristics 

• Long flattened head without eyes (only other Missouri fish 
that lacks eyes is the Ozark cavefish) 

• Unpigmented, resulting in a whitish pink appearance due 
to blood vessels under the skin 

• Pelvic fins absent and rounded tail (caudal) fin 

• Scales are extremely small giving the body the appearance 
of being scaleless. 

• Anus located far forward on body, under throat in adults. 

Interesting facts 

• It is believed that these cavefish spawn when water is high 




I Southern cavefish 

I Ozark cavefish 
(state listed as em 
and federally listed as 
threatened) 









in February through April and that females carry the eggs 
in the gill chamber for 4 to 5 months until hatching. Up 
to 50 eggs can spawn from one female. 
Cavefish have a low metabolic rate that allows them to go 
without food for an extended period of time. 
Threats include: illegal collection for aquariums, 
groundwater pollution, groundwater removal, and 
habitat flooding by reservoir construction. 




Brook Silverside 




Scientific name Labidesthes sicculus 
From the Greek labidos, meaning "a pair of forceps" and 
esthio, meaning "to eat," referring to the elongated jaws; 
and the Latin siccus, meaning "dried," that is, found in 
dried pools. 

Other common names Needlenose, stick minnow, skipjack 

Average size of adults 2.5 to 4 inches 

Lifespan Maximum of 17 months; die shortly after 
spawning 

Habitat 

• Prefer clear, warm water with no noticeable current, 
such as backwaters and overflow pools of large streams 

• Remain near the surface, never descending more than 
a few feet 

Food 

• Young eat microcrustaceans. 

• Adults eat insects. 

M ost active Activity regulated by light intensity; very 
active in daytime and on moon-bright nights; motionless 
in the dark 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender, translucent fish with a silvery lateral band along 
the sides 















1,0 , 30 50 MILES 




• Two dorsal fins, long pointed snouts, and relatively large 
mouths 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn from late spring to summer 

• Eggs attach to vegetation or other substrate by a long 
filament. 

• These fish can be seen leaping out of the water over and 
over again, especially on moonlit nights. They will follow 
a flashlight beam shone onto the water at night. 



26 



Northern Studfish 



Scientific name Fundulus catenatus 

From Latin, fundus means "bottom" and catenatus means 

"chained" in reference to the color pattern. 

Average Size Of adults 6 or more inches; Missouri's largest 
topminnow 

Lifespan 5 years 

Habitat 

• Prefer high-gradient streams with rock, or gravel or sand 
bottoms, and permanent flow of clear water 

• Most often found in shallow water along margins of 
pools and riffles where there is little current 

Food 

• Adults mainly eat aquatic insect larvae and snails. 

• Juveniles take more of their food from the surface. 

M ost active Morning or late afternoon 

Identifying characteristics 

• Among the prettiest native topminnows, with silvery 
to brownish sides punctuated with scattered, short, 
horizontal brown dashes 

• Males in breeding condition have electric-blue sides 
accentuated by horizontal red lines, orange-spotted head, 
and orange and black bands on the tail fin. 





--J- - £4kf& % ** M * * % 




Interesting facts 

• Spawn from mid-May to early August 

• Males guard territory but do not prepare a nest. 

• Aggressive by nature and adept leapers, they can leap out 
of the water with a quick tail flip when attacked. 





Freshwater Drum 



Sc i en t i fie name Aplodinotus grunniens 
Aplodinotus means "single back" 
in Greek, while grunniens 
means "grunting" in Latin. 

Average size of adults 12 to 20 
inches and 12 ounces to 5 pounds; 
maximum weight in Missouri is around 
40 pounds and 60 pounds in other locations 

Lifespan 13 years 

Habitat 

• Large rivers, lakes and impoundments over most of 
Missouri, usually found in association with sandy or mud 
and sand mixed bottoms 

• Rivers with larger pools and in reservoirs often occur in 
depths to 30 feet 

Food 

• Larval freshwater drum feed on zooplankton until about 
2 inches long. 

• The large mouth of larval freshwater drum also allows 
feeding upon the larvae of other fish species. 

• Because the species has large heavy "throat teeth," it was 
first considered to feed on mollusks. However, studies 
have determined that the primary diet of adults is fish, 
crayfish and larval aquatic insects. 



Identifying characteristics 

• Silvery colored, deep-bodied fish 

• Head and body slope upward from snout to dorsal fins 
and give the fish distinct humpbacked appearance 

• Milky white lips 

• White pelvic fins are often tinged with orange. The dorsal 
fin is long and is divided into two distinct parts. 

Interesting facts 

• This fish gets its name is from the grunting or 
"drumming" sound that is made by specialized muscles in 
association with the swim bladder. This sound is thought 
to be a mating call from male fish to females. 

• Various groups of Native Americans used the otoliths (ear 
bones) as jewelry. 



27 




BlackstripeTopminnow 



Scientific name Fundulus notatus 

From Latin, fundus 

means "bottom" 

referring to the 

habitat and notatus 

means "spotted." 

Average size of adults 
2 to 3.5 inches 

Lifespan 2 to 3 years 

Habitat 

• Along large lowland rivers and in the pools of streams 
draining flatter uplands 

• Prefers slightly cooler and less turbid streams than the 
blackspotted topminnow 

Food Wide variety of insect larvae, worms and other 
stream-bottom life 

M ost active Mornings and evenings 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender, elongated shape makes for a sleek, swift fish. 




*%5W?r; 



wm% 







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• Light brown, with a velvety black longitudinal stripe 
running from the tip of the snout, through the eye, to the 
base of the tail fin 

Interesting facts 

• Spawns in spring 

• Lives in pairs or small groups that cruise slowly along the 
shoreline 

• Inhabits streams where the closely related blackspotted 
topminnow is not found 





Western Mosquitofish 



Scientific name Gambusia affinis 
Gambusia is derived from a provincial 
Cuban word for mosquitofish, and 
affinis is Latin meaning "related." 

Average size of adults 1.2 inches 
for males; 2.8 inches for females 

Lifespan 

• Usually 3 years 

• These fish grow rapidly, however, sometimes maturing 
and reproducing within their first year; they usually 
die during the summer in which they mature. 

Habitat 

• Prefer shallow, marginal areas with warm water and 
abundant vegetative cover in backwaters and adjacent 
oxbows of sluggish lowland streams 

• Remain near the surface in water only a few inches deep, 
singly or in small groups 

• More widespread now due to stocking for mosquito 
control 

Food Zooplankton, small insects and detritus 

M ost active A sight-feeding fish that is most likely active 
during daylight 

Identifying characteristics 

• Same general body shape of the guppy to which it is 
related 

• Vertical bars across the eyes give a masked appearance 



male 









female 

• Upturned mouth, rounded tail fin, guppy-gray color, with 
a dark edge on each scale 

Interesting facts 

• Internal fertilization characterizes Missouri's only native 
livebearer. A single mating can fertilize several successive 
broods. 

• Introduced throughout the world in the mistaken belief 
that they control mosquitoes better than native fish, 
mosquitofish have harmed aquatic ecosystems because of 
their highly predaceous habits. 

• Possibly the most widespread fish in the world today 



28 




Blackspotted Topminnow 



Scientific name Fundulus olivaceus 

From Latin, fundus 

means "bottom" 

referring to the 

habitat and olivaceus 

means "olive-colored." 

Average size of adults 
2 to 3.5 inches 

Lifespan 2 to 3 years 

Habitat 

• Along large lowland rivers and in the pools of 
streams draining flatter uplands 

• Prefer slightly warmer and more turbid 
streams than the blackstripe topminnow 

Food Wide variety or insect larvae, worms and other 
stream-bottom life 

M OSt active Mornings and evenings 

Identifying characteristics 

• Sleek, swift fish with a slender, elongated shape 





• Light brown, with a velvety black longitudinal stripe 
running from the tip of the snout, through the eye, to 
the base of the tail fin 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in spring 

• Live in pairs or small groups that cruise slowly along the 
shoreline 

• Inhabit streams where the closely related blackstripe 
topminnow is not found 






Banded Sculpin 



Scientific name Cottus carolinae 

Cottus is a Greek word 

referring to the European 

miller's thumb (suggesting 

flattened as a thumb 

smashed between two 

millstones), and carolinae is 

named for Caroline Henry, a friend 

of Theodore N. Gill who described the species. 

Common names Miller's thumb, 
spoonhead, muddler, hog molly, blob 

Average size of adults 

• 2.5 to 5 inches, with a maximum size exceeding 7 inches 

• Largest of Missouri's three sculpin species 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat Springs, spring branches, spring- fed streams 
and caves 

Food 

• Young feed on small crustaceans and aquatic insects. 

• Adults feed mostly on crayfish, aquatic insects, snails and 
other fish, which they capture by ambush. 

M OSt active Dusk to midnight 

Identifying characteristics 

• Enlarged somewhat flattened head 

• No scales 

• Large and fan-like pectoral fins 

• Reddish-brown with four or five dark vertical bars 






m 



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• Most closely resembles Missouri's other two sculpin 
species: mottled sculpin and Ozark sculpin. The banded 
sculpin is most easily distinguished by the broad, distinct 
dark vertical bar at the base of the tail fin. 

Interesting facts 

• Camouflage themselves to hide from its predators and to 
sit undetected awaiting prey 

• Commonly caught by trout anglers 

• Commonly found in caves oftentimes a considerable 
distance from the cave entrance 

• More tolerant of warmer water than other Missouri 
sculpins and can be found in larger, warmer Ozark 
streams 

• Only Missouri sculpin found north of the Missouri River 

• Females attach eggs to underside of rocks or logs in slow 
to swift current of spring branches and spring- fed streams 
during late winter through spring. Males guard the nest. 

• Spend most of their life in less than 100 yards of stream 



29 




Northern Rock Bass 



Scientific name Ambloplites rupestris 

Ambloplites means "blunt armature" in Greek; rupestris 

from Latin refers to "living among the rocks." 

Other common names Goggle-eye, redeye 

Average size of adults Up to 1 1 inches and 1 pound; 
largest verified individual from the Big Piney River at 1 7 
inches and 2 pounds, 12 ounces 

Lifespan 7 to 9 years 

Habitat 

• Streams of the northern Ozarks, tributaries of the middle 
Mississippi, and a portion of the southwestern Ozarks 

• Rarely in Ozarks reservoirs 

• Larger individuals found around boulders, logs and 
vegetation beds in deep pools. 

Food Crayfish and aquatic insects; occasionally terrestrial 
insects and small fish 

M ost active Twilight hours of dawn and dusk, and at night 

Identifying characteristics 

• Thicker-bodied than most other sunfish with large mouth 
and very large eyes 

• Spiny dorsal fin with 1 2 spines broadly connected to soft 
dorsal fin 

• Anal fin with 6 spines 

• Color variable but generally dark brown to bronze above, 
often blotched on sides 

• Distinct pattern of dark spots arranged in parallel lines 
along the sides differentiates the northern rock bass from 
closest relatives the Ozark bass and shadow bass. 

Interesting facts 

Previously recognized as a single species known as "rock 
bass," two very close relatives of the northern rock bass 
have been recognized in Missouri. Although nearly 
identical in behavior, habitat and life histories, the shadow 
bass [Ambloplites ariommus) and Ozark bass {Ambloplites 



s&*+ 




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, 2. 


i_ 



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• Northern rock bass 

• Shadow bass 

• Ozark bass 



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const ellatus) differ from northern rock bass and from each 
other primarily by where they are found. 

• Shadow bass: Distribution is centered in the 
southeastern Ozarks from the Spring River to the 
Whitewater River. It is also found in the ditches and 
streams of the central lowlands in Scott, Dunklin, 
and Pemiscot counties. Shadow bass may be identified 
as having broad y dark blotches arranged in a vertical 
pattern along their sides (Vs. small blackish spots). 

• Ozark bass: Found in the Ozark Region of southwest 
Missouri and nowhere else in the world, it occupies 
streams of the White River basin, Pomme de Terre and 
Sac drainages, and the Osage River basin. This species 
differs in appearance from northern rock bass and shadow 
bass by having blackish spots in an irregular freckled 
pattern along their sides (instead of in parallel rows or 
having vertical blotches). Ozark bass also tend to be more 
slender-bodied, and their eyes are often smaller. 




White Bass 




Scientific name Morone chrysops 

Morone is a name of unknown derivation, and chrysops 

means "golden eye" in Greek. 

Other common names Striped bass, striper, streaker, 
silver bass, sand bass 

Average size of adults 

• 9 to 15 inches and 0.25 to 1.25 pounds 

• Maximum size of 17.5 inches and 2.75 pounds 

Lifespan 4 years 

Habitat Inhabit the deeper pools of streams and the open 
waters of lakes and reservoirs 



Food Carnivorous, feeding primarily on fish, but also on 
aquatic insects and crustaceans 

M ost active Dawn and dusk 

Identifying characteristics 

• Silvery, spiny-rayed elongated fish with several dark 
horizontal streaks along the sides 

• Back is blue-gray with silvery reflections. 

• Sides are silvery with a faint blue-green 
tinge and several horizontal olive-gray streaks. 

• Upper surface of the tongue usually has a single patch 
of teeth. 



30 



Flier 



Scientific name Centrarchus macropterus 
Centrarchus is from Greek meaning 
"anal-spined" and refers to the long 
anal fin spines. Also from Greek, 
kentron means "spine," archos means 
"anus" and macropterus means "long fin." 

Other common names Round flier, flying perch 

Average size of adults 

• 5 to 7 inches 

• Maximum size of 8 inches and 1 pound 

Lifespan Up to 7 years 

Habitat 

• Prefers quiet, clear bodies of water with little current and 
considerable aquatic vegetation and mud bottom 

• In Missouri, these habitats are usually found in sluggish 
pools of streams, backwaters, oxbows and bayous. 

Food 

• Young feed mostly on small crustaceans with aquatic and 
terrestrial insects increasing in the diet as fliers increase in 
size. 

• Fliers larger than 7 inches feed primarily on insects with 
fish and crustaceans making up a lesser percentage of the 
diet. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Most similar in appearance to crappie, but the flier has 
10-13 dorsal spines. 

• Deep-bodied and saucer-shaped 

• Generally olive-green to brassy in color 

• Numerous black spots on sides arranged in rows on 
adults; interrupted rows of black spots on young 

• Young fliers have a large dark spot with an orange 
margin in the rear portion of the dorsal fin that gradually 
disappears as the fish gets older. 




Interesting facts 

• Ichthyologists from Virginia, where fliers are commonly 
found, have speculated the dark spot found in the rear 
portion of small flier's dorsal fin, when coupled with 
their eye gives the appearance of a much larger fish when 
viewed from above. This adaptation is believed to deter 
potential flier predators like herons. 

• Because of its small size and limited distribution in 
Missouri, the flier is of little interest to Missouri anglers. 
In the South and Southeast, where the flier is more 
common, some anglers catch fliers with fly fishing tackle 
because of this species' habit of readily feeding on insects 
on the water surface. 




Interesting facts 

• One of only two species of 
sea bass (yellow bass are the 
other) native to Missouri 

• Hybrids of the white bass and the 
non-native striped bass have been 
stocked in several Missouri reservoirs 
to help control populations of gizzard shad. 

• One of the most important game fish in 
Missouri's large impoundments 

• Most closely related to yellow and striped bass 





31 




Green Sunfish 

Scientific name Lepomis cyanellus 
From Greek, lepomis means "scaled gill 
cover" and cyanellus means "blue." 

Other common names Black perch 

Average size of adults 

• 6 to 8 inches 

• Maximum size of 10 inches and 1 pound 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Can be found in any pond, lake, or stream that is capable 
of supporting fish life 

• Often found in pools and backwaters of streams that 
become isolated and stagnant during the summer or 
drought 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on insects, crayfish and 
small fish 

M ost active Throughout daylight hours 

Identifying characteristics 

• Thick-bodied sunfish with a large mouth, the upper jaw 
extending to about the middle of the eye 

• Back and sides are bluish-green, grading to pale yellow 
or white on the belly. Black vertical bars are sometimes 
evident on the sides. 



• Blue mottlings and streaks are present on the side of the 
head. 

• Pelvic fins in breeding males are white or pink; and the 
tail and anal and dorsal fins are tipped with white or 
salmon-pink. 

Interesting facts 

• Most widely distributed fish in Missouri, at least a few 
occur in every stream capable of supporting fish life 

• Hybrids of the green sunfish and bluegill have become 
popular with anglers, and are often stocked in small 
ponds to provide exciting fishing for kids. 

• Most closely related to bluegill, redear and other sunfishes 



Scientific name Lepomis macrochirus 
From Greek, lepomis means "scaled 
gill cover," and macrochirus means 
"large hand," probably in reference 
to the body shape. 

Other common names 
Bream, brim, pond perch 

Average size of adults 

• 6 to 9.5 inches and 0.5 to 0.75 pounds 

• Maximum size of 1 1 inches and 1 pound 

Lifespan 4 to 6 years 

Habitat 

• Lowland lakes, artificial impoundments of all sizes, 
permanent pools of streams, and the quiet backwaters of 
large rivers 

• Thrives in warm, moderately clear waters with little or no 
current 

Food Carnivorous, feeding primarily on insects, but also on 
small crustaceans and small fish 

Most active Daylight 

Identifying characteristics 

• Deep and slab-sided sunfish with a small-sized mouth, 
the upper jaw not reaching past the front of the eye 




• Back and sides are dark olive-green with emerald and 
brassy reflections. 

• Breast and belly are yellow or reddish-orange. 

• Sides often have dark, vertical bars. 

• Chin and lower part of the gill cover are blue, and the ear 
flap is entirely black. 

Interesting facts 

• Virtually absent from northwestern Missouri until it 
was widely stocked in farm ponds as a source of food for 
largemouth bass 

• One of the most popular panfishes in North America and 
puts up a vigorous fight when hooked. 

• Most closely related to green, redear, and other sunfishes 



32 



Longear Sunfish 




\ 



Scientific name Lepomis megalotis 
In Greek, lepomis means "scaled gill 
cover," and megalotis means "great ear" 
in reference to the prominent ear flap. 

Other common names Pumpkinseed, 
creek perch, sun perch, sunnie 

Average size of adults 5 to 6 inches; 
maximum size 7 inches and 4.5 ounces 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Abundant in Ozark streams of all sizes except 
for extreme headwaters 

• Clear, permanent-flowing streams having sandy or rocky 
bottoms and aquatic vegetation 

• Avoids strong currents and is found in pools, inlets and 
overflow waters adjacent to the stream channel 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on insects, small crustaceans 
and some small fish 

Most active Daylight 

Identifying characteristics 

• Deep and slab-sided sunfish with a moderate-sized mouth, 
the upper jaw nearly reaching the front of the eye 




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• Back and sides are blue-green speckled with yellow and 
emerald; the belly is yellow or orange. 

• Side of head is olive or light orange with sky-blue 
vermiculations 

• Elongated ear flap is black and often bordered in white. 

Interesting facts 

• Despite its small size, the longear sunfish is an important 
panfish in Ozark streams because of its abundance and 
willingness to bite. 

• Provides excellent sport when taken on light tackle 

• Most closely related to bluegill, green and other sunfishes 




Redear Sunfish 

Scientific name Lepomis microlophus 

In Greek, lepomis means "scaled gill cover," 

and microlophus means "small nape." 

Other common names 
Shellcracker, bream, stumpknocker 

Average size of adults 

• 8 to 10.5 inches and 6.5 to 12 ounces 

• Maximum size of more than 1 2 inches 
and more than 4 pounds 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Does best in warm, clear waters with no noticeable 
current and an abundance of aquatic plants 

• In streams, it prefers protected bays and overflow pools 
and avoids the main channel. 

Food Carnivorous, feeding primarily on snails and other 
mollusks 

M ost active Daylight 

Identifying characteristics 

• Deep and slab-sided sunfish with a small-sized mouth, 
the upper jaw not reaching past the front of the eye 



' • - i 'M — i - \ ' 





•- -■-■' - ,* rh, - -- ,* fc= -, '--r. < V III; 1 , I 



• Back and sides are golden or light olive-green. 

• Belly is yellow or orange-yellow. 

• Sides often have dark, vertical bars. 

• Ear flap is black with a whitish border and a prominent 
orange or red spot. 

Interesting facts 

• Stocked in many small ponds and fish hatcheries to 
control the spread of certain aquatic parasites. Redear prey 
upon aquatic snails, which are an important link in the 
lifecycles of certain aquatic parasites. 

• Most closely related to bluegill, green and other sunfishes 



33 



Small mouth Bass 

Scientific name Micropterus dolomieu 
Micropterus in Greek means "small 
fin," the name resulting from an 
injury to the type specimen that 
made it appear that the posterior 
rays of the soft dorsal formed a separate 
fin; and dolomieu is named in tribute of 
M. Dolomieu, a French mineralogist. 

Other common names Brown bass, brownie, bronzeback 

Average size of adults 

• 10 to 20 inches long and 0.5 to 4.2 pounds 

• Maximum size of 22 inches long and 6 pounds 

Lifespan 10 to 12 years 

Habitat 

• Found predominantly in cool, clear Ozark streams and 
large reservoirs in the Ozarks 

• Found sparingly in the upper Mississippi River and its 
principle prairie tributaries that have clear water and 
permanent flow 

• Thrives in clear streams, with silt-free rock or gravel 
bottoms, near riffles but not in the main current 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on fish, crayfish, and large 
aquatic insects 

M ost active Dawn and dusk 






30 50 MILES 




Identifying characteristics 

• Large, elongated fish with a moderately large mouth 

• Upper jaw reaches to about the rear margin of the eye in 
adults. 

• Back and sides are greenish-brown with faint dark 
mottling and bars; the belly whitish overlain with dusky 
pigment. 

Interesting facts 

• Although mostly found in streams in Missouri, it can be 
found in natural lakes and ponds in the northern parts of 
its North American range. 

• Populations have declined in the Moreau River drainage 
partly because of hybridization with an introduced 
population of the closely related spotted bass. 

• Most closely related to largemouth and spotted bass 



Spotted Bass 

Scientific name Micropterus punctulatus 

Micropterus in Greek means 

"small fin," the name resulting 

from an injury to the type 

specimen that made it appear 

that the posterior rays of the 

soft dorsal formed a separate 

fin; and punctulatus in Latin 

means "dotted," in reference to the 

rows of dark spots along the lower sides. 

Other common names Spot, Kentucky bass 

Average size of adults 

• 10 to 17 inches long and 0.6 to 3.5 pounds 

• Maximum size of 20 inches long and 4 to 5 pounds 

Lifespan 6 years 

Habitat 

• Permanent- flowing waters that are warmer and slightly 
more turbid than those where the smallmouth bass occurs 

• Main channels of large rivers and in most Ozark 
reservoirs at greater depths than other black basses 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on crayfish, fish, and immature 
aquatic insects 

M ost active Dawn and dusk 




Identifying characteristics 

• Large, elongated fish with a large mouth 

• Upper jaw reaches to or slightly beyond the rear margin 
of the eye in adults. 

• Upper parts are greenish with darker mottlings; the lower 
sides and belly are whitish with dark spots arranged in 
rows. The midside has a broad, dark continuous stripe. 

Interesting facts 

• Important game fish in Missouri, although less desirable 
than smallmouth and largemouth bass because of its 
smaller size 

• Introduced populations in Missouri tend to replace 
smallmouth bass through hybridization and competition. 

• Most closely related to largemouth and smallmouth bass 



34 



Largemouth Bass 



Scientific name Micropterus salmoides 
Micropterus in Greek means 
"small fin," the name resulting 
from an injury to the type 
specimen that made it appear 
that the posterior rays of the 
soft dorsal formed a separate 
fin. Salmoides is from the Latin 
word salmo, the trout, because 
this species was often called "trout" 
in southern states. 

Other common names Lineside bass, bigmouth bass 

Average size of adults 

• 10 to 20 inches long and 0.5 to 4.5 pounds 

• Maximum 24 inches long and 15 pounds. 

Lifespan 10 to 15 years 

Habitat Lowland lakes, artificial impoundments of all sizes, 
permanent pools of streams, and quiet backwaters of large 
rivers. Thrives in warm, moderately clear waters with little or 
no current. 

Food Carnivorous, feeding on fish, crayfish, large insects, 
and, occasionally, frogs, mice, snakes or other small animals 
that fall into the water. 




M OSt active Dawn and dusk 

Identifying characteristics 

• Large, elongated fish with a very large mouth 

• Upper jaw reaches far beyond the rear margin of the eye, 
except in small young. 

• Upper parts are greenish; the lower sides and belly are 
white without dark spots or with spots that are irregularly 
arranged. Midside has a broad, dark continuous stripe. 

Interesting facts 

• Most popular freshwater game fish in North America 

• Two distinct sub-species: the northern and the Florida 

• Most closely related to smallmouth and spotted bass 



Bass identification tips 



Largemouth bass 



two fins not 
. well connected 



smooth 
tongue 




upper jaw extends 
beyond back of eye 



Smallmouth bass 

upper jaw does 

not extend beyond 

back of eye 




very small 
cheek scales 



. scales on cheek 

are same size as 

on body 



dark horizontal 
stripe 



Striped bass 



Spotted bass 



rough patch 
on tongue 



upper jaw 

does not reach 

back of eye 



horizontal stripes 



two fins connected 





two fins connected 




very small 
cheek scales 



dark horizontal stripe, 

lower side with series of 

dark horizontal streaks 



horizontal stripes 



teeth on back of tongue 
in two parallel patches 



White bass 




side plain with a series of 
separate vertical bars 



teeth on back of 
tongue in a single patch 



35 



White Crappie 



s&*+ 



Scientific name Pomoxis annularis 
Pomoxis in Greek means "sharp 
opercle;" annularis in Latin means 
"having rings," which refers to the 
pigment in vertical bars on the sides. 

Other common names 

Crappie, papermouth, bachelor perch 

Average size of adults 9 to 10 inches; 
maximum growth up to 4 pounds 

Lifespan 4 years; occasionally 8 years or more 

Habitat 

• Open water in or near submerged timber or other 
suitable cover in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and slow- 
flowing backwaters of large rivers 

• Near vegetation and submerged woody structure in 
shallow water during spawning period 

Food Primarily small fish such as minnows and young 
shad; also aquatic insects and small crustaceans 

M ost active Evening and nighttime, but can be seen 
during all times of the day 




Identifying characteristics 

• Deep bodied, strongly compressed laterally (slab-sided) 

• Sides silver with 5-10 often faint, vertical bars 

• Upper jaw long, reaching past middle of eye 

• Dorsal fin with 6 spines 

• Most closely related to black crappie 

Interesting facts 

• Nest in colonies in or near plant growth if available. As 
many as 35 nests have been reported in one colony 

• In suitable waters, natural reproduction of crappies may 
be considerable. 




Black Crappie 




Scientific name Pomoxis nigromaculatus 
Pomoxis in Greek means "sharp 
opercle," and nigromaculatus in 
Latin means "black spotted." 

Other common names 

Crappie, papermouth, bachelor perch 

Average size of adults 9 to 10 inches; 
maximum growth 4 pounds 

Lifespan 4 years; occasionally 8 years or more 

Habitat Like that of the white crappie, the black crappie 
occupies open water with submerged timber or aquatic 
vegetation in standing water bodies and slow-flowing 
backwaters of large rivers. However, the black crappie is 
less tolerant of turbid water and siltation. 

Food Feeds primarily on small fish such as minnows and 
young shad, aquatic insects and small crustaceans 

M ost active Evening and nighttime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Deep bodied and strongly compressed laterally like the 



^.k 



mm. 



VT 




^psyf^jp- 








[ &U imt- 



white crappie, but has silver sides with dark speckles and 
blotches not arranged in bars and dorsal fin with 7-8 
spines 

Interesting facts 

• Grows slower in length than the white crappie but is 
generally heavier at any given length 

• Female black crappie may spawn with several males and 
can produce eggs several times during the spawning 
period. 



36 



Greenside Darter 



Scientific name Etheostoma blennioides 

Etheostoma is from the Greek etheo "to strain" and stoma 

"mouth;" blennioides means "like the blenny," a marine fish. 

Average Size Of adults 2.5 to 4.5 inches; maximum more 
than 5.5 inches 

Lifespan 5 years 

Habitat Swift to moderate current in streams and rivers with 
rocky or gravel riffles throughout the Ozarks 

Food Larvae of aquatic insects including midges, caddisflies 
and mayflies; small crustaceans; snails 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Olive to yellow sides and back with scattered red spots and 
vertical blotches often arranged in a "V" or "W" pattern 

• Breeding males have bright blue-green on head and lower 
fins and green vertical bars. 

Interesting facts 

• Second largest Missouri darter in size next to the logperch 

• Attach eggs to strands of filamentous algae and aquatic 
mosses 





J ohnny Darter 




Scientific name Etheostoma nigrum 

Etheostoma is from the Greek etheo "to strain" and stoma 

"mouth;" nigrum is Latin for "black." 

Average Size Of adults 1.6 to 2.8 inches; maximum 3 inches 

Lifespan 3 to 4 years 

Habitat 

• Found primarily in pools and slow-moving riffles in 
sandy streams 

• Common in prairie streams of northeastern and 
central Missouri 

Food Midge larvae, other aquatic insects and small 
crustaceans 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Straw-colored body with dark "X-", "Y-" and 
"W-" shaped markings on sides 

• Breeding males are very dark brown with black on head 
and fin. 

Interesting facts 

• More tolerant of siltation and turbidity than other darters 
found in Missouri 

• Spawn upside down on the underside of rocks or other 
objects 






v f^fv^ -\i 1 *rM*/*4* 



'/" .-'.^y •i^mjjJ •":'■• o '? to OO MILES 



-U?f%, 













37 



Orangethroat Darter 




1 \-4: ..:,- ! vl ■ _• ^ M ~ 




Sc i ent i fie name Etheostoma spectabile 
Etheostoma is from the Greek 
etheo "to strain" and stoma 
"mouth;" spectabile in Latin 
means "conspicuous." 

Average size of adults 

1.2 to 2 inches; maximum 2.6 inches 

Lifespan 4 to 5 years 

Habitat Slow-moving riffles in streams with gravel 
and rock bottoms and clear to moderately clear water 

Food Midge larvae, other aquatic insects and small 
crustaceans 

Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Mottled yellow-brown on back with indistinct brown 
crossbars; sides with several vertical blue stripes 

• Males colorful while breeding with red blotches on sides 
and bright orange under gills 

Interesting facts 

• The swim bladder in darters is lacking or much-reduced. 
This allows them to sink and hold closely to the bottom 
of the stream without much effort. 






"i-V^Mf* i> *4t- 








r- r^T'?^""^ 



#&zZ? /'« breeding color 

Shortly after hatching, orangethroat darter fry sometimes 
inhabit the nests of smallmouth bass. It is believed that 
they benefit from the protection of the male bass guarding 
its nest. 

Recently scientists have separated the orangethroat darter 
group in Missouri into three distinct species: brook, 
Current River and orangethroat darters. 




***» liilll m 



Scientific name Sander canadensis 

Sander refers to German common name for the European 
relative of walleye; canadensis referring to "from Canada" 
where the species was first described. 

Other common names Jack salmon, spotted Jack, sand pike 

Average size of adults 

• 12-15 inches; maximum 3 to 4 pounds 

• Smaller than walleye 

Lifespan 7 to 10 years 

Habitat 

• Mostly in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and 
suitable tributaries, as well as the Eleven Point River 
in southern Missouri 

• Found mainly in flowing water and often swift current 

• More tolerant of turbidity than walleye 

Food A variety offish, crustaceans and insects 

M OSt active During low light periods or during daylight in 
highly turbid water 

Identifying characteristics 

Similar to walleye with the following exceptions: 

• distinct dark blotches or "saddle marks" present on sides 

• dark spots on the first dorsal fin which lacks dark blotch 
near the base of the last few dorsal spines 











• scales present on cheek 

• white blotch on the lower lobe of the tail fin absent or 
reduced 

I nteresting fact Sauger occasionally interbreed with 
walleye where their ranges overlap to produce "saugeye." 
The hybrid shares characteristics of both parents making 
identification difficult. 



38 



Logperch 




wsmm 



'rfrAM* 




Scientific name Percina caprodes 
Percina is "a small perch" from Greek; 
caprodes also from Greek means 
"resembling a pig" in 
reference to the snout. 

Average size of adults 

4 to 6 inches; maximum 7 inches 

Lifespan 3 or 4 years 

Habitat 

• Deep riffles and silt-free pools in small- to medium-sized 
rivers 

• Along wind-swept gravel shorelines in reservoirs 

Food Midges, small crayfish and small aquatic worms 
Most active Daytime 

Identifying characteristics 

• Long snout overhanging mouth 




;"% O 10 | 30 | 50MIL.ES 






• 15-20 dark vertical bars alternating in length on pale 
yellow sides 

Interesting facts 

• Largest member of the darter family in Missouri 

• Uses its snout to pry up rocks in search of prey 

• Occasionally caught by fishermen using small spinning 
and natural baits 




Walleye 




•**«* 



Scientific name Sander vitreus 

Sander refers to the German common name for the 

European relative of walleye; vitreus refers to the "glassy eye." 

Other common names Jack salmon, walleyed pike 

Average Size Of adults Commonly 12 to 28 inches and 0.5 
to 8 pounds. Largest individuals may achieve 20-22 pounds 
in Missouri and some other states. 

Lifespan 7 or 8 years; occasionally up to 13 years or more 

Habitat 

• Native to several large rivers and streams throughout 
Missouri, walleye have been stocked extensively in 
reservoirs, rivers, and ponds. 

• Adults prefer deeper pools with rocky or submerged log 
cover in rivers, and creek channels and dropoffs in lakes 
and reservoirs. 

• At night they are often found in shallower depths and may 
suspend in the water column while feeding. 

Food 

• Adults primarily feed on a variety of fishes including 
minnows and shad. 

• Fry consume zooplankton (small crustaceans) and aquatic 
insect larvae. 

M OSt active At night; may also be active during low light, 
such as dawn and dusk, and minimized light penetration 
from murky or choppy water or heavy cloud cover. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Slender bodied with two separate dorsal fins, large mouth 
and numerous teeth 

• Back and sides olive brown to nearly black 

• Belly and lower tip of tail fin are white. 

• Distinguished from its close relative, the sauger by larger 




streaks (versus spots) on the first dorsal fin and a dark 
blotch near the base of the last few dorsal spines; lack of 
scales on the cheek; and a pronounced white blotch on 
the lower lobe of the tail fin. 

Interesting facts 

• The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is 
caused by a reflective layer of pigment behind the retina 
called the tapetum lucidum. It helps them see and feed at 
night in deep or murky water. 

• Often referred to as a "pike," walleye are actually the 
largest North American member of the perch family 
(Percidae), which includes the sauger, yellow perch and 
more than 150 species of darters. 

• Walleye have very sharp canine teeth, which are slanted 
backward to catch and hold prey. 

• Most closely related to the sauger 



39 



MISSOURI STATE FISH 

Channel Catfish 



«■*«* 




Scientific name 
Ictalurus punctatus 
Ictalurus from Greek 
meaning "fish cat;" 
punctatus from Latin 
meaning "spotted" in 
reference to the dark 
spots on the body. 

Other common names 
Spotted cat, blue cat, 
fiddler, lady cat, 
chucklehead cat, willow cat 

Average size of adults 

• 12 to 32 inches, weighing 
1 to 15 pounds 

• Specimens 
as large as 





45 pounds 

have been 

caught elsewhere, 

but are uncommon in Missouri. 

Lifespan 6 to 7 years, but can live more than 20 years 

Habitat Prefer sand- or gravel-bottomed lakes or large 
streams with low current 

Food 

• Omnivorous bottom feeders, eating insects, mollusks, 
crustaceans, fish and plant material. 

• Channel catfish less than 4 inches long eat mostly small 
insects. 

• Locate food primarily by taste and smell 

M ost active Adults stay in deep water of larger pools during 
the day and move to shallows or near cover at night to feed. 

Identifying characteristics 

• Like all catfish, the channel cat has smooth, scaleless skin 
and barbels ("whiskers") around the mouth. 

• The channel catfish, like the blue catfish, has a deeply 
forked tail, but can be distinguished by having dark spots 
on its sides and an anal fin with a rounded edge. 

Interesting facts 

• Spawn in late spring or early summer when water 
temperatures reach 75° F 

• Males select nest sites in dark secluded areas such as 
cavities in drift piles, logs, undercut banks and rocks. 

• Males guard the nest. Fry remain in the nest, guarded by 
the male, for about a week after they hatch. 

• One of the most sought after fish in Missouri 

• A wide variety of baits is used to catch channel catfish 
including liver, worms, grasshoppers, shrimp, chicken, 
cheese and stinkbait. Trot or jug lines, or rod and reel are 
favored fishing methods. 

• Raised commercially for food in catfish "farms" 

• Established as the official Missouri state fish on 
May 23, 1997